Nunavut’s most northerly community seeks meeting on coal exploration
"We are not interested in allowing resource exploitation and exploration in that area of Ellesmere Island"
The mayor of Grise Fiord, the chair of its hunters and trappers organization and the chair of its community lands and resource committee say they don’t support the plans of the Canada Coal Inc. to continue exploration on Ellesmere Island, where the company has found extensive coal deposits.
Mayor Liza Ningiuk, the HTO’s Jaypetee Akeeagok and the CLARC’s Larry Audlaluk want representatives of the company, the federal government, Inuit organizations and the Nunavut Impact Review Board to come to a public meeting in Grise Fiord to talk about Canada Coal’s 2013 plans for the exploration of Ellesmere’s Folsheim peninsula.
A letter about the 2013 license application review for Canada Coal arrived in Grise Fiord past the date for comments, Ningiuk, Akeeagok and Audlaluk said in their Feb. 14 letter to the Mining Recorder Office in Iqaluit.
In the letter they outlined their concerns about an area that is “a primary source of otherwise scare wildlife and fish resources and is regularly used by Inuit for harvesting purposes.”
These concerns also include fears that the endangered Peary caribou and the ancient petrified forests on Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere Island will be disturbed.
They say the fossil forests are “unique international treasures of global significance” which should not “be compromised by the ravages of resource exploration and exploitation.”
The community of Grise Fiord is not against economic development, they say, but the negative impacts to the environment in this area far outweigh the benefits — a message they say they told representatives of Canada Coal on two previous occasions last year.
“Both times we made it clear that we are not interested in allowing resource exploitation and exploration is that area of Ellesmere island,” they wrote. “We have not changed our minds.”
Canada Coal, which owns 75 coal exploration licences covering roughly 2.5 million acres of territory on Nunavut’s Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands, says its 2012 exploration program showed there are “extensive thermal coal deposits, with low sulphur and ash content” located on Ellesmere’s Fosheim Peninsula. These could help solve Nunavut’s energy crisis, the company said.
Its western Fosheim Peninsula is one of six coal license areas owned by the company, about 36 kilometres east of Eureka and at located the heart of its “Nunavut Coal Project.”
Initial sampling of that area in the 1980s suggested it contains about 22 billion tonnes of coal.